W’bago used for expansion efforts?

Local News

It’s not clear what role Winnebago, if any, may be playing in a Fairmont company’s plans for future expansion.

Last December, Brad Wolf informed fellow Economic Development Authority board members that Zierke Built Manufacturing (ZBM), Inc., was bringing some of its operations back to Winnebago because they had run out of room.

Wolf said that Zierke Built was planning to use a building it owns on Sixth Avenue Southeast to employ an unspecified number of welders.

ZBM owner and president Greg Zierke was tight-lipped when Tripleanews.com asked him to provide an update.

“It’s low key, that’s all I am going to tell you,” says Zierke. “I’m not going to tell you anything.”

Recently, the company purchased newsprint ads that say, “Zierke Built Manufacturing, Inc., is expanding operations in the Fairmont and Winnebago areas.” and, “We’re looking for welders!”

In August 2017, ZBM closed its doors in Winnebago because a shortage of workers and limited space were hindering the company’s growth.

In addition, the company had exhausted 12 years of tax breaks provided under the state’s JOBZ program.

Fairmont Development Authority director Linsey Preuss worked with company officials to get a 10-year tax abatement for 100 percent of the property taxes on their buildings, with the amount not to exceed $231,000 over the 10 years.

The company brought 40 existing jobs to Fairmont and has added 20 since, well ahead of a requirement to hire 30 employees over three years.

Now, Preuss has convinced city officials to apply for a $300,000 loan from the Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) for new expansion.

When asked, Preuss wouldn’t say if ZBM’s return to Winnebago has anything to do with the MIF application because the company is reportedly at full capacity and might not have the space to expand at its Fairmont site.

“I do not understand the question,” she says. “The city of Fairmont is helping them expand in Fairmont.”

If a MIF loan is approved, ZBM would purchase a laser cutter and a brake press and also must create 20 new full-time jobs at a wage of $16 per hour.

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